Cristiano Ronaldo’s farewell to the World Cup was followed by tributes from sporting superstars Pele, Kylian Mbappe and LeBron James.
The Portugal captain said his dream of winning the trophy was over, after his fifth World Cup ended with a quarter-final defeat to Morocco.
Now 37, Ronaldo has conceded the Qatar 2022 tournament was his last World Cup, although he has left the door open for now on playing on in the short term.
Ronaldo lost his place in the side and was a second-half substitute in the last-16 win over Switzerland and also the Morocco game.
He became the first player to score in five separate World Cups, having netted in each edition since 2006, and is also now the joint most-capped player and highest goalscorer in international football history.
However, he never scored in a game in the knockout stages of the World Cup, a blip on an otherwise remarkably successful career.
There was a rapid reaction to an emotional message from Ronaldo on Instagram, where he described the goal of World Cup glory as “the biggest and most ambitious dream of my career”.
NBA great James said Ronaldo was a “LEGEND!!”, with the Los Angeles Lakers star adding a salute, thank-you and crown emoji to his message.
Three-time World Cup winner Pele, paying close attention to the tournament from his hospital bed in Brazil, wrote: “Thanks for making us smile my friend.”
Mbappe, who helped France beat England 2-1 on Saturday to reach the semi-finals, replied to Ronaldo with three emojis. Those were of a goat, referencing Ronaldo’s ‘greatest of all time’ credentials, plus hands together to signal his thanks, and a crown.
Ronaldo’s recent interviewer and cheerleader, British journalist Piers Morgan, sent a message containing six sets of clapping hands.
Former Brazil striker Pato wrote to Ronaldo: “You are an example! You inspire people and children around the world. The same ones that criticise you are the ones who want the same success as you. You are a giant! Congratulations.”
Jesse Lingard, Ronaldo’s former Manchester United team-mate, seemingly got his acronyms muddled, however, as he posted “GAOT”.
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